Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays from the NBA? I'm on board!

After a whole lot of work lost to greed on both ends, the NBAPA and the league owners came together and made it happen.  We won't lose the whole season.  In fact, the 66-game season starts tomorrow.  Merry Christmas from the NBA right?  Hell yes, I'd say!  I've always said football was my first love.  It's true, to humanize these sports, football's my wife.  She's been with me since day one, always had my back.. but she knows about my secret on the side flame I see when I'm out of town.  Basketball.  Yeah, sports are that serious to me.  So when the NBA lockout cost us about four months of sports, news, and ultimately happiness, I was PISSED.  Now?  I'm excited.. on the edge of my seat with misty eyes.  That said, what am I looking for out of this season?  I'll tell you.

I've been a Kevin Garnett fan since he was drafted.  Now, he's an old ass man by NBA standards, but until he's traded or retired I'm screaming GO CELTICS!  I know for a fact their window of opportunity slammed shut.  KG can't hack it nearly as well anymore.  Ray Allen's still killing it, legitimately the best shooter in the NBA.  Paul Pierce is aging too.  He can carry a team, and he's the heart and soul of the C's, but he's showing his age from doing exactly that until they picked up KG and Ray Allen. I understand the philosophy of picking up the aging vets that have proven themselves, but it's time the Celtics go young.  That said.. my pick for the east is Miami (again).  D-Wade, King James, and Chris Bosh together just serve to legitimize the fact that NBA teams need a three horse stable these days to compete, and these three young men are some of the best at what they do.  I love my Celtics, and I have MAJOR respect for the Bulls, but Miami's going to the finals again.

The Western Conference is a whole different breed.  There's so much parity in the West it makes the NFL look sloppy (Parity is why they moved Seattle to the NFC West, btw).  The perennial powerhouses are still in tact:  The Lakers look great.  The Spurs are showing their age, but still getting the job done.  Dallas is gonna be a tough team for anyone this year.  Portland made some key pick-ups too, and they're my Home team.  If you've never been to the Rose Garden for an important Western Conference match-up, you haven't LIVED.  But there's upstarts.. Insurgents if you will.  The perma-struggling Clippers now have that three horse stable I mentioned.  Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and DeShawn Jordan.  That's two VERY good big fellas in the paint, and one of the most dangerous point guards in the NBA, along with Eric Gordon at the 2.  I'm sold.. In fact, I think the Clippers will make the playoffs this year.  However, I very strongly feel that the West is gonna come down to two teams.  Dallas and (Drum roll please...) MINNESOTA!  That's right.  Our Lake Oswego native, Kevin Love, who showed stellar play last season, averaging a double-double (I think he was averaging 17 PPG and 15 RPG) and currently holds the longest streak of double-doubles in the NBA, got himself an amazing little Spaniard.  Ricky Rubio's young, flashy, and absolutely brilliant in what I've seen of him.  Even showboating like he's playing on the black top, Rubio's play looks fluid, effortless, and most importantly, EFFECTIVE.  While my last NBA post mentioned wanting to see Kevin Love come home to Portland (I still wanna see that, by the way!) he's a great fit for the Timberwolves.  Face of the franchise in the post-KG era.  I wish him nothing but the best, and if Rubio keeps up the amazing level of play he showed in the preseason and in Spain, they'll have an amazing season.

This also gives me an idea for tomorrow's blog!  Stay tuned.

Societal Rejects: Why I want to hit them like they're grown men.. and can't. :(

Preface:  Pardon my language.. or don't.  I really don't give a shit right now, and I'm not gonna censor myself.  If you can't handle that, this is a great time to stop reading.

The cause of this whole frustrated post is a very simple action:  The Sack Tap. 

Typically reserved for good friends when you're feeling exceptionally spiteful, or malicious lovers that wanna see you squirm (You know who you are. ;)).  It can be performed forehand or backhand and either way, it really kinda sucks.  Who likes getting hit in the balls with anything other than female parts mid-coitus? 

When you should NOT sack tap someone:  When they're already a mutual dislike and alcohol involved. 

Seriously, what the FUCK kind of childish idiot, knowing (or not.. who knows?) that the only logical reaction to getting smacked in the nuts is for the recipient to try to cave your stupid-looking face in, thinks that this is a good idea?!  If you two already don't like each other, start with a KICK to the nuts.  Boom.  Game over.  Am I right fellas?  But to just tap a guy in the nuts hard enough to be a mild annoyance, you're gonna get mashed on.  Hard.  Like you have a pair yourself, which you obviously fucking DON'T or you would have just socked the other guy in the mouth. 

This is supposed to be the happiest time of year.  People enjoy the company of their families (Assuming they have some), give and receive gifts, and feast like Gods!  Instead, as Christmas draws closer, people seem to want to fight that much more.  I'm sorry, but that tells me that your life just plains SUCKS in your opinion.  Wanna borrow mine?  I thrive on stress that would cause most people ulcers or drive them to drugs.  I deal with so much emotional pain from deaths and other losses that a lot of other people would have already figured out exactly what the barrel of their favorite pistol tastes like a hundred times over.. and repainted their ceiling by suck-starting the damn thing.  I still wake up at least twice a week and grab the phone to call my mom.. and she's IN A FUCKING URN.  Everybody wave to the pretty ocean scene on top of my entertainment center.  So forgive me if I have so little compassion left for your petty bullshit that all I wanna do is hit you people like you're grown men.  I just wish people would act like they really are grown folks.

So ask yourself, why is it that I haven't ground your faces into the parking lot until they're just pulp on the concrete?  The answer is simple.

I have bills to pay, and I can't do that from a prison cell. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Very not productive!!

Ended up taking yesterday off from writing too.  Had to run some errands, pay some bills, and then Cy came over.  I definitely needed some father-son time more than I needed to write!  We hung out, talked, played some video games, watched a couple movies.  Doing it all over again today!  Maybe when he goes home I'll dig in and get something written.  Maybe I'll say screw it, it's Yule.  Guess I'll figure that out later.

Either way, Blessed Yule (Or whatever it is YOU celebrate), and thanks for reading!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

So.. I feel like an asshole.

After a lengthy period of uncertainty, I finally committed to attend my niece's 16th birthday party. For some societal reason I've never researched, the 16th birthday is incredibly important to young women. I plotted, planned, tried to budget so that I could get to work from the party.. and failed. I barely had enough to get to work from home that night and get some much needed food before starting my shift.

I feel like such a dick. I raised the hopes of many, including myself. All of these people, myself included, were let down. I'm in the rare possession of a vocabulary that rivals that of a thesaurus, and I lack the proper words to express how sorry I am that I couldn't make it.

I find it strangely fitting that as I type this, "Walk With Me In Hell" by Lamb of God is kicking the ever-loving crap out of my eardrums.

Also, I truly believe everything happens for a reason. I haven't had the smallest bit of luck figuring this reason out, but when I do it's likely to be some sort of cosmic kick to the nuts.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chapter One: It's rare an artist displays his masterpiece before it's done. I'm a rare beast. lol

From the upcoming novel "Of Claws and Blood" by Pete Tobias.

Chapter One
From Tragedy Comes A Terrible Heroism

The sun shone down brilliantly through the removed top of the Jeep as Anthony traversed the winding mountain roads. His focus wasn't entirely on the road, but enough to keep the leisurely paced vehicle in it's place. The distraction was only partial, as he wasn't entirely invested in the half hearted singing of "Bulletproof" as Five Finger Death Punch roared through the speakers. Anthony's melodic tenor seemed to accompany Ivan Moody's gruff tones almost perfectly, but he was more the type that just sung along on drives and in the shower. Anthony Peterson wasn't searching for fame and fortune, or even expression through artistry. He was a hard working blue-collar type. More at home with an ax in his hand than the spotlight shining brilliantly on his rugged, weathered face. Anthony had been the foreman on a local logging crew for a couple years now, having busted his ass from his time as a greenhorn up to heading his own crew. This was a fact he was most proud of, but he was also conflicted. The idea of destroying the forest had never set well with him, and while it took considerable doing he convinced the owner to expand his business to planting new trees during the off-season. This not only helped the environment, but guaranteed work for generations. The mountains had always resonated strongly with him, so even when he wasn't working he was there. Camping out to partake of all kinds of outdoor sports was a regular thing, and stretched back to his youth. As he stubbed out the remnants of a Marlboro Smooth in his ash tray - something he frequently caught a ribbing for since "only black guys smoke menthols" - he pulled the jeep over and came to a stop.

"What the hell was that?"

A flash of mottled brown the size of a truck had sprinted across the road in a blur of speed twenty yards ahead. Fingers nervously wrapped around the grip of the .357 permanently tucked in the glove box. It had saved his bacon more than once, and only one time with anything more drastic than a warning shot. There was still meat in his freezer from that day, but he found it difficult to eat. Killing wasn't in Anthony's nature. He could do it only out of self preservation. He wasn't a vegetarian, but if he had to do the slaughtering that was an animal likely to be set free. The jeep was stationary for what felt like an eternity. Two of the longest minutes in his life, or probably anyone's for that matter. Finally, his grip was released on the weapon and the jeep crawled into motion. Wide-open hazel eyes scanned the forest on both sides of the vehicle as he drove past the spot where the massive creature - was it a creature? - had entered the treeline. This lack of focus proved costly. Anthony hadn't even noticed the rapidly approaching truck behind him, it's driver's eyes closed as bliss overcame him, euphoria destroying any hope of a reaction as a wave of pleasure wracked his body and he filled the mouth of a lot lizard from the local truck stop with his seed. She was a new one, and very ski--


Just as the man yelled, the initial impact took place. A loud, dull thud followed by the screech of torn metal as the engine compartment collapsed. Bolts sheared as momentum pushed the old truck forward into the back of the jeep, shoving the engine through the firewall to splinter every bone in his legs. The man's lower body was reduced to pulp in a matter of just half a second. The woman's skull erupted in a spray of blood and gray matter as hot steel destroyed flesh and bone as the engine continued through on its path of destruction. The man simply stared in helpless awe at the carnage that he'd become. That his lust had created. His expression never changed as he rapidly bled out through a tangle of shredded flesh and displaced organs.

Anthony's attention was brought back to the here and now by another man's voice just in time for his jeep to be catapulted forward like the graceful bound of a large cat. None of the wheels remained on the ground as the jeep flew forth, the right front fender smashing into a tree to create a ricochet. Anthony's body gave up against the immense strain, going limp as he fell unconscious. The jeep bounced off the tree into a spin, and rolled as it landed, finally coming to rest on it's roll cage about ten feet off the road on the opposite side. His unconscious mind was aware that he was moving, just not how, or where to.

Slowly, eyelids raised to reveal a scene he'd never expected. He was sheltered beneath the roots of a fallen free with a small fire burning just far enough away that he wouldn't accidentally roll into it. The warm wet feeling in both shins slowly made itself known as mental acuity slowly returned, bringing about the urge to sit up. The effort required to sit up was too much, and a pain crashed through his nerves with the force of a hurricane. Anthony was a tough man, but in the face of this pain he screamed. He cared not for who heard, just hoped, prayed that this pain would subside. His neck had made a rather horrible crunch sound as he'd fallen from the shredded seat belt, but he didn't know that. The pain took quite a while to subside and allow him to think of anything else, and when it did, it was suddenly revealed that he was not alone. She was very quiet, weeping in the darkness just outside the light of the fire. Anthony was scared and helpless. He couldn't move, and knew both of his legs were damaged. He feared his neck was broken. The voice that came when he opened his mouth was barely a croak.

"Help me..."

The weeping was instantly a fit of sobbing, wails of remorse howled toward the waxing half moon. Accompanying the lament was footsteps, growing closer. Heavy footfalls even in the soft dirt. The woman revealed by the dim flicker of the fire was beautiful despite her large physical stature. She was nearly six feet tall, and probably close to a solid two hundred and fifty pounds. While her stature was abnormal, it was certainly impressive. Each muscle was sculpted as if she'd been carved from granite. Her nudity, the streaks of dirt her tears created, these were lost on a reeling mind. Anthony knew one thing. This woman would take care of him while he healed. The roar of pain in his right shin was already dimming to a dull throb, feeling as though his flesh had been penetrated by teeth. Lots of large teeth, meant for tearing meat.

"I'm sorry.. I had no choice. You'd die if I didn't!"

She fell to her knees, sobbing uncontrollably. Her torso shaking violently with each gasp of air that fueled her endless expression of sorrow. Anthony's questions fell on deaf ears no matter how loudly he asked, answered only with further apologies. Finally, the woman brought herself under control. The sobbing ceased, replaced with mild sniffles. Rather than standing, she crawled the remaining distance bewteen them and laid beside Anthony.

"My name was Desirae. Now I'm known as Rock Dancer of the Bloodfang Tribe. You're very wounded. I've splinted and bandaged your broken leg, and your neck will be sore for days. Your right leg.. I'm very sad to have altered your life so much. Before I explain, you should drink."

The woman tugged on a thin cord, bringing about a leather pouch from behind her. The knot was untied, and a thin tube was placed to his lips. Anthony use this as a straw instinctively though if he knew he was drinking from the bladder of a fallen foe through their urethra, this may have never happened. Desirae raised the pouch to allow the fresh spring water to flow toward Anthony's mouth and he drank hungrily until he gasped, his handled gently cradled in her free hand. She smiled down upon him as the tube was taken from his mouth.

"As I promised, I'll explain what's going to happen and when. Then you'll be introduced to the Tribe. My kind is known as Stone Sentinels. We guard the mountains, protect our sacred land from poachers. We aid anyone within our lands if it fits with our ideals. I've seen you with your crew, and though you destroy, you also rebuild. Otherwise, you'd be dying in your jeep from blood loss."

She tapped very gently on the broken leg, bringing the wet feeling of spilled blood to the forefront in his mind.

"My tribe lives as bears. Honestly, we may have a use for you in the urban world. If the Elders will it, you will comply. Otherwise, you'll be killed, and my efforts will have been in vain. Please don't let this happen."

Desirae - Rock Dancer, continued with her explanation of what was to happen, and how Anthony's wounds would be healed. He fought so hard to assimilate all this knowledge, and in the end, he retained only one thing. His life would change in about a week. A week he was doomed to spend at Rock Dancer's mercy in the woods. Time passed, Anthony at Rock Dancer's mercy, though she was fiercely protective and very nurturing. She told him what to expect, and the nightmares she described to him happened nightly with increasing detail and brutality. Finally, it came. The night he was promised that everything would change.

The night of the full moon.

My next endeavor: Becoming a published author, and the journey this entails.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, I'm going to write a book. I'm going to write a bad ass book. One full of fictional, brutal violence, love, justice, chaos, sex, vengeance, well you get the picture I hope.

Of all fantasy creatures, I've always felt a strong resonance with (as dubbed by White Wolf) the Gurahl. The were-bear. A shape-shifter with the capability to become a bear, or a giant mixture of man and bear. This is to become the main character.

This isn't my first effort at writing a book. This IS my first SERIOUS effort though. Now, I'll list the challenges I need to overcome to make this happen, and how I plan to do so.

I'm no college graduate. Hell, I never went except for Basketball 101 which was basically just an excuse to go play ball with Steve until the instructor moved him to Basketball 102. I plan to overcome this by using my otherworldly command of the English language to my benefit. I might have failed English in high school every semester, but my vocabulary and descriptive ability are beyond that of most. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but I have experience in typing up the most incredible descriptions of various situations that I'm capable of by way of text-based role play in AOL chat rooms for a little over a decade.

Fear of being rejected. A human instinct these days. It's sad but true. I plan to conquer this with my unbridled tenacity. I'm going to put myself and my work out there. If you don't like it, that's fine. If you don't like ME, that's fine too. But for everyone that dislikes me or my efforts, there's a hundred people that will be left on the edge of their seat begging for more. Yeah. All I do is win baby. Even when I fail, I still win because I tried. Can YOU say that? I truly hope you can.

Time. Period, plain, and simple. This is going to take some time to get the ball rolling. Especially to the degree I want now. The degree of success I desire will grow exponentially as I invest more time and energy into this project. I don't want the world on a silver platter. Dirt tastes gross. I do like the idea though already. LOL.

Speaking of time.. it's time I set foot to this path and stomp all over it like I own the world.

No, I won't be publishing a blog tomorrow. Just reread this one. It'll still apply.

Oh goodness, Pete didn't write yesterday?!

No, I sure didn't. I couldn't even tell you why I didn't bother to write anything for this morning. Not because I don't truly have a reason, but trust me, you don't really want the details unless you were there.

So as I sit here and ponder a topic for tomorrow, sipping on Mountain Dew Game Fuel (Yes, this time around it's amazing!) and headbanging to "Gematria: The Killing Name" by Slipknot, I figured I'd list (And thus admit) my failures this year. Yeah, even Mr. All I Do Is Win can drop the ball sometimes. These will be listed in order of how they come to mind. If this implies some sort of importance, great? Honestly, it's whatever.

Quitting smoking - I tried to switch to the electronic cigarette this year. Yes, I was still inhaling crap and poisoning myself with nicotine. Compared to cigarettes though, the smell doesn't permeate everything. At least not that I noticed. I'm not sure if I failed because one of the main ingredients was rage, or because I reverted to my typical reaction to ultimatums ("If you feel this strongly about it, let's see what happens when we both stand our ground.") but ultimately as I type this, I have a Marlboro smooth hanging out of my mouth. Calm down, it's not lit. Yet. ;p (Edit - Now it is.)

Quitting drinking - Yeah, I tried to completely throw the bottle into life's great trash can. I no longer drink to excess. In fact, I barely drink at all. An average of two cocktails a week, almost always McCormick's Gin and tonic with extra lime. Some might see this as a huge success. I've had a problem with alcohol for a lot of years, so to an extent I agree that it's a marginal success but ultimately I've failed. Find me a non-alcoholic gin that's dirt cheap, and I'll probably be able to kick the habit. I'm only half kidding.

Still apparently ok with relationshits (No, that isn't a typo) - Yes, everything happens for a reason. Yes, if things go sour, it's typically because they aren't "Home" (A nod to Renee's advice via text the other day). The fact remains, I've slogged through a little over a year of utter shit (Minus the first couple months with Victoria.. thanks babe!) in an effort to make "Wrong" work. Thus, I'm going to take some time out to get back to being me. REALLY me. Not this utterly pissed off monster I've been in recent years. Will I still be the Grizzly Bear? Hell yes. That won't change until I reach a point in my Path where the bear aspect is no longer necessary. I suspect that just won't happen, but if it does, change is the only constant in life, and I'll embrace it accordingly.

Escaping the time sink known as Facebook - Let's face it, Google+ just hasn't taken off like it should have. I'm not bitter about this. I do see it as a failure though. I hacked a LOT of good people from my friends list, and it was done in vain. Rather than escaping, I did learn to manage my time and energy invested in it a lot better. Had it not been my intent to walk away from it almost entirely, I'd view this as a MASSIVE success.

This concludes the list of things I feel I've pretty well screwed up at. In conclusion, I submit my feelings on the subject of failure.

Failure, at it's heart, is nothing more than a setback. It shows that you made an effort, which is more than many can say, but that effort wasn't quite enough to get the job done. Failure is a lesson. It requires bravery and strength to even try. More so to admit that you didn't achieve your goals. However, if you don't try, you can never experience the sweet taste of success, even if along your Path it comes with the bitterness of failure.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Technology VS History: How we continually &%$ up as a species.

In the past (AKA "when I was a kid") it was very rare to have our friends' phone numbers unless those friends had moved away. Why? Quite simply, WE didn't need them. We just strapped on our shoes, jumped on our favored method of conveyance (Bike, Skateboard, Pogo Stick) and went to knock on their front doors.

Sadly, times change. Though for some, not as much as usual!

All through grade school, things remained the same. In first grade, I lived in Dallas, OR. My friend Jeremy lived in the house next door. We'd go off to do whatever random silliness drew our attention until the street lights came on. My former friend Randy lived a few doors further down. I say former, because until I stopped caring (read: got older and moved away) I never really forgave him for knocking out my tooth with a steel pipe while we were playing cops and robbers. He was really good at the cop role.. if he lives in LA, he should apply. (/snicker) Eventually, Jeremy moved far enough away that I HAD to ride my bike there or it took like an hour to get to his place. In all actuality it was only a few blocks, but dude.. I was like 6. I stopped spending so much time with Jeremy because he lived FOREVER away, but hey, Archie moved in next door! FANTASTIC!

Second grade I lived in Keizer, OR. Same situation, only the next door neighbor's name was Adam. Almost exactly the same situation! Adam moved a few blocks down the road, far enough that I had to take my bike to get there. Adam and I remained in contact with very few breaks until about 2000 when we had a falling out over some money. Recently, I came in contact with him again and gave him my number. Not sure if he'll ever use it, but I'm kinda indifferent either way.

From third grade until freshman year, I lived in North Salem, right by Highland School. There were kids EVERYWHERE in this neighborhood! Ryan lived a couple doors down, Derek lived behind me across the alley, Vince lived about a block away, and in fourth grade, I met Robert, Eric, Joe, and Daniel. I got picked on quite a bit because of the physical differences (They were "average" while I was the big kid all through school) but we were basically inseparable. We never called anyone. We all just got together at Robert's house and went across the street to play basketball or football until we could barely walk, then did it again the next day.

Freshman year, it happened. Six weeks deep into the school year, and I moved to South Salem. This is both a blessing and a curse. I managed to escape getting really embroiled in the closest thing Salem had to a gang culture, but instead traded that for a long-running pot habit. Over the years, Derek had moved out south as well, and his brother David had moved up from California. I ended up getting my own phone line, too. Why? My parents couldn't get online with as much time as I was spending on the phone! Between girls and making plans with David, it was pretty much a brick wall. Still, the results were almost invariably me leaving to go meet up with friends. I'd discovered (and subsequently became really good at) video games early, but the basic day to day thing was "let's get baked and play video games" around this time in my life. Plenty of fun, not very productive.

I went through that whole life story mess to illustrate a simple point: Human interaction. We had some back then. We had LOTS back then! Sometimes to the point that we'd get in fights because we were spending so much time with friends that we'd just annoy the crap out of each other for a few days!

Then 1998 came about, and brought with it the mobile phone. Some of you got one sooner, some later, but it was the same general thing. At first, these things didn't even have a screen other than to show you the number you dialed. It basically behaved like a cordless phone, but you could leave your house with it. It was fantastic! I answered many a phone call with "Hey, I'm at Cue Ball. Wanna come shoot?" Also, there was this tremendous feature that forwarded my calls from my house phone to my mobile one if I didn't answer. FANTASTIC! But with all technological triumphs, there's bound to be a down side waiting just around the bend.

As time marched on, mobile phones became more and more advanced. Soon, phones hit the market with screens and GAMES! Cheesy monochromatic games that looked like they belonged on an Atari 2600 but with the same spinach-crap green screen as a Nintendo Gameboy. Also, despite the fact nobody ever used it, these phones had a feature called "Text messaging." You only had one sentence to say, and didn't have time to make a phone call? That's fine! For twenty-five cents, you can send a friend a quick little message, letting them know you're on the way. This is around the time people started spending hours a day on the internet for all sorts of purposes. Research, work, gaming, media, you name it, it's out there. This is also when humanity sort of lost touch with itself. You need to get in touch with a friend? Here's one of a million chat clients to help! They're not online? Better send them an email! They only live two blocks away? Maaan, that's too far. In fact, these days people prefer texting for HOURS to get a point across rather than calling someone and talking for about ten minutes. I'm guilty of it myself, as I'm sure most of us reading this are.

Currently, it seems the purveyors of technology are trying to reverse this issue of human interaction. Skype allows for video chat, which is nothing new since webcams have been around since Al Gore credited himself with hitting the power button on the internet. iPhones and iPads have a feature called FaceTime. Essentially the same thing, and requires a wifi connection. There's also some Android powered phones and tablets with front-mounted cameras to allow whatever the hell Android calls FaceTime. Since people mostly stopped buying books, genuine, paper and ink books, you can download them straight to your phone, computer, or tablet.

The sum of this story is simple: We need to put down the techno-gadgetry and get back to being human as much as possible. Stop and compare the feelings you had when you interacted with people (Even if this included punching them) to the feelings you have now. Comparatively we, as a species, have grown numb to one another with exceedingly rare exception.

Conversely, if this Digital Age is all you have experience with, I challenge you to set that aside. Use your gadgets entirely differently than you currently do. When someone texts you, CALL them back. Read a book, one made of paper and ink. Instead of using Skype or FaceTime, knock on your friend's door! Compare this feeling to what you had while texting all day from as close as a block away and tell me your day doesn't go much more awesome.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oh the joys of new directions - Trailblazer Possibilities

After going over the roster, I've come to one VERY solid conclusion: The Blazers have literally no trade stock they can afford to move. Especially without the ridiculously vicious Kevin Pritchard as GM. I know very little about Chad Buchanan, but KP was a beast in the war room and had pretty damn good results. However, with the retirement of Brandon Roy, it frees up some money to make a big splash. A much needed big splash.

The Blazers are typically shallow at point guard and center. This year is no exception.

With so many big names on the market, it's going to be a very trying year if they make no moves, especially on the heels of Brandon Roy's possibly premature retirement. Also, MOST of Portland's players are (or were very recently) free agents. Not a good sign.

Names that stand out as a good option for Portland (And prices to get them):
PG - Goran Dragic - Houston - $2.1m - Unrestricted
SG - Eric Gordon - LAC - $5.1m Qualifying offer (IMO go big and GET THIS KID)
SF - Nobody on the list worth looking at, other than our own Gerald Wallace and Nic Batum. Gerald could make a nice sign-and-trade, but either way, he NEEDS to be resigned NOW.
PF - While I'd love seeing KG in a Blazers uniform outside of NBA live, one name stands alone: KEVIN LOVE. With a $6.1 Million qualifying offer, The Blazers NEED this Lake Oswego native which would negate the need for a true center with him and LA starting.
C - With Camby and Earl Barron both on the list, Camby costing about $12m a season, I think qualifying offers should be made to at least ONE of the Lopez brothers. Both Brooks and Robin are about $4m a piece, and easily worth the price. Also on the list is Jermaine O'Neal, who Portland drafted, let age on the pines, then sent to Indy where he became an instant all-star, with a $6.2m salary and no restrictions.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What were they thinking?! The NBA makes me sad.

I was watching SportsCenter the other night, and saw two major signings in the Western Conference. Phoenix resigned Grant Hill. Portland resigned Greg Oden. Let's look a little deeper, shall we?

Grant Hill has been a tough, resilient competitor since he came into the league in 1992. Yes, that means he's old as dirt by NBA standards. Ever since his first game in the NBA, he's been capable of playing at a very high level and has made every team he was on much better. He's starting to show his age and has "lost a step or two" in the speed department, but he's still just as good as he was before multiple surgeries to repair the damage basketball has done to his legs. Possibly even better than before because he plays smart, and despite not being as fast as he used to be, he's still capable of playing for the Suns who love to hit the fast break.

The contract signed? One year for $6.5 Million. Not bad for a guy's 19th season in the NBA, especially when both sides of this deal know retirement looms in the relatively near future.

Greg Oden has played a whopping 82 games in the four seasons since the Blazers took him in the draft ahead of one Kevin Durant. This was a MAJOR derp moment. Maybe some of us basketball fans remember the 1984 draft. The Blazers passed on a skinny guard from North Carolina for a center by the name of Sam Bowie. That guard? He was nobody special. Just Michael Jordan. Yeah, THE Michael Jordan. Kinda the same situation.

When Oden hit the floor last year (not literally), I freely admit the kid was a force. He was a beast in the low post, and drew enough attention off of LaMarcus Aldridge to free LA to play his former PF (Pussy forward) game. Then it happened (again). Oden hit the floor with knee problems. This time, he'd managed to rip his patella in half just by having strong legs. Drink milk homeboy. It does a body good, makes your bones stronger!

Oden's contract? One year for the qualifying offer of $8.9 Million. AND HOW DID HE REPAY THIS?! HE BLEW HIS KNEE AGAIN! Out for the season. He did restructure his contract since then for less money, to is credit, but holy shit man!

In the same year Oden signs for 8.9 million dollars and blows his knee for the fourth year straight, the squad's Golden Boy, Brandon "WTF would we do without him?!" Roy retires. Seems his knees are bugging him pretty badly. Brandon missed some time last year due to back spasms, but most of his time out was for a double knee surgery. Something that he came back from just in time to try to save the sinking Blazers ship in the first round of the playoffs. It was mostly Brandon Roy's contribution that made Portland the toughest team that the NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks had to face in the playoffs, including a Miami Heat team stacked with celebrity and firepower that Dirk and the boys literally tore apart.

Why do I mention Brandon Roy? Other than the fact that he's been the face of the Blazers since coming out of Washington to take rookie of the year and a spot on the all-star team, he also had the good grace to bow out when he knee he couldn't get the job done. Greg Oden could learn from this. SHOULD learn from this. Four years in a row, he has just been a miscolored Shrek sitting on the bench in a suit, sucking up money the team HE'S SUPPOSED TO BE HELPING could have spent to get a suitable center. Or even a terrible center that could actually play. I'd rather have a blithering idiot that pets the referees and calls them kittens, hands the ball over to opposing point guards with a smile and thanks them, and craps his pants mid-game (tl;dr: A seven year old with mental issues) than a worthless waste of flesh that costs more than $1.50 per game.

I wish him well in his life, but in the NBA Greg Oden isn't worth the gatorade he's sipping on the sidelines.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Artistic growth in music: Sometimes, it just sucks.

I woke up to an email today from Roadrunner Records. Some of you might not be familiar with the label, so the easy description is "If they're badass metal, they're usually signed to Roadrunner." Their roster includes the likes of Korn, Slipknot, Murderdolls, Devildriver, OPETH, Chimera, and many many more. Also Nickelback for some reason which makes me snicker.

On to the point. Included in the newsletter was a mention of Korn's new album, Path of Totality. I've been a Korn fan since 1990-something, so I was definitely interested in what Jonathan Davis and co. had up their sleeves with this new release.

Each and every track on the album features (at least one) prominent artist from the techno/dubstep world. This is definitely something I'd file under "artistic growth" as the band seems to be taking a new direction. In fact, the band seems entirely missing. After a preview of every single track on iTunes, this album seems to be a Jonathan Davis solo album with music by Excision, Skrillex, and Noisia.

Typically, I'd be all for artistic growth. I love when bands don't stagnate, when they produce new and exciting music. Listening to the progression Eminem has made between the Slim Shady LP and Relapse is truly beautiful! Three Days Grace seems to be putting a sharper edge on even their "made for MTV" tracks with each album. As I type this, I've got "Ghost Walking" by Lamb of God on repeat, and their brutality is truly amplified with each new album to the point that I'm very, very excited for their new release, "Resolution" on January 24th. Happy birthday to me, haha!

Sadly, this form of artistic growth doesn't seem to be growth at all. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that "Path of Totality" isn't a Korn album at all. Not one track actually featured members of Korn. In fact, this is a Jonathan Davis techno album. Sadly, this album makes me feel that Korn is going the Path of Metallica. They were absolutely amazing in their early years, but as they progress in their craft, they're abandoning what earned them so many fans in the first place and simply becoming.. soft. Soft is ok. I like soft. Who doesn't like a little Keith Sweat or Marvin Gaye now and then? Evanessence is one of my favorite bands. But when I listen to Korn, especially this new album, all I can do is shake my head and hit stop.

This isn't to say the new album is bad. Jonathan Davis still has one of the most incredible male voices in metal. If you like techno and dubstep, this could easily be one of their better albums. If you go into it with no expectations, no memories of the past, this is a beautiful form of expression in artistry and personal growth. If you hear Korn album and immediately think "kinda techy guitar work, brutal drum tracks, and some Jonathan Davis vocal rage.. just what I needed!" you, like me, are in for some serious disappointment.